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Internships: Leaders for Social Change

December 18, 2012

Last summer I participated in a program through the Piper Center for Vocation and Career. It was called Leaders for Social Change and allowed me to have an internship and learn more about effective policies that help improve the community.

Fellow LSC Intern, Sally Cole, ’13, and me at our internship.

Leaders for Social Change offers a chance to reflect on what it means to enact social change, while giving students a glimpse into organizations that are already working to improve their communities. The internship I had this summer gave me skills that I’ll be able to carry into a career after St. Olaf, and provided an opportunity for experiential learning about social change. Here’s a basic run-down of the program: there are two houses, one in Northfield and one in St. Paul, and we all worked on projects that focus on social change. Ten students lived in the Northfield House, and eight students (including me!) lived in the St. Paul house, and most of us interned at nonprofits in each city. The houses were a vibrant mix of majors and interests to create an intentional living community centered on social change.

I spent the summer working with marketing at the Citizens League in St. Paul, MN. My organization focused on fostering discussions between citizens from across party lines to create recommendations for policy change in Minnesota. I know—it sounds overwhelming, and as an intern, I’ll admit that I didn’t understand all of their plans and strategies, but it was an awesome opportunity to look into an organization that hopes to create real change in public policy. As an English and American Studies major, most of my classes focus on literature and theory. While I love theory more than most, it was refreshing to see all the ideas play out in reality!

My desk at the Citizens League office.

The internships in the Leaders for Social Change program vary from working to promote bicycle use in urban areas, to developing programs that teach entrepreneurship in the local Latino community, to investigating the economic value of the arts. Though the program only lasted part of the summer, it provided a great opportunity to explore the communities off the Hill and figure out what I can do to improve and sustain them. It’s one of St. Olaf’s many unique programs that work to directly involve students in the world around them, creating students that are passionate, engaged, and ready to change the world!


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